Sihanoukville is the gateway to the Koh Rong islands. For someone who haven’t even heard of these islands before like myself, there are notably TWO Koh Rong – Koh Rong Samloem (honeymoon material) and Koh Rong (backpackers material). Yes…so, choose your poison wisely. I happened to choose both because I feared on missing out. Honestly, there weren’t much to shout about the Cambodian islands. Having the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful islands and beaches previously, I guess I was able to relate to the laid back and chill out local scene that these two islands had to offer! I still enjoyed the my time mingling with the local Cambos in these islands!
“Koh Rong Samloem is owned by the Cambodian government. As a result, most development on the island is small-scale, with the low-key set up fostering an endearingly intimate aspect across the island.” – Travelfish.org
How to get to Koh Rong Samloem?
First, purchase a return ticket from Sihanoukville (Serendipity Pier – KRS) for USD $22. My ferry ride was at 3pm. They offered a pick up from the hotel at 2pm. I guess the cambodians are not punctual with their timings and I ended up leaving the pier close to 430pm. This was after a good hoo-ha between two ferries of the same company. Obviously, not the most pleasant experience because I was looking forward to arrive at Koh Rong Samloem by 430 pm. The journey was supposed to take only 1 hour.
Mood, you say?
On top of the delay, the ferry operator decided to re-route the journey by docking at Koh Rong, before making its way to Koh Rong Samloem. Oh god…. imagine my disappointment! I arrived at KRS at almost 6pm local time. There are several piers at KRS, so make sure to check which port you are closely located too. The main piers would be Saracen Bay or M’Pai Bay. Most of the resorts are lined up along Saracen Bay. Thankfully, it was a pleasant day. After all that hiatus, I was super grateful to step foot on the island.
Where to stay?
It wasn’t easy to scout for a decent place to stay, really… especially with the criteria of an air conditioned room. Everything seemed so expensive and I resorted to Sweet Dreams Samloem, which ran for USD $70 a night. Yes, you heard it right! A basic chalet, with private shower, air conditioner and breakfast. I was intending to spend not more than usd $35 a night but that was deemed almost impossible. It was probably one of the most decent places to stay if you want clean bathing water. It has its own restaurant and a beachfront chill out spot. You can also rent kayaks from them for USD $7.
I’ve only booked for a night and was confident to find something cheaper on site. Judgement proved to be wrong as most of the places were taken up and there weren’t many great choices around. They recommended Dream Dorms, which was further down the beach and far from all the eateries. That room wasn’t any cheaper either. It was a nice bungalow, but the room was certainly not ready for guest. By this, I would pin point precisely to the water system. Throughout the 3 days stay, the water running from the pipes were brown and smelled of rust. Not recommended to stay there as yet, unless the water issues are resolved. I sure hope they bucked up as soon as possible because after all it’s a nice homey place! After all that drama and haggling, both the nights at Dream Dorm came up to USD $65 from the initial charge of $90.
Where to eat?
Generally, you would be able to hop about the restaurants along the shore. Everything is well within walking distances. There weren’t much choices and their food availability were mostly dependent on the transfer of the boat supplies. The weather wasn’t the best over that particular week, so most of the supply boats were affected. Don’t be surprise to find out that they ran out of chicken or eggs! You’ll just have to resort to eating whatever that is available. Breakfast were provided by Sweet Dreams for the stay.
I was particularly fond of a local joint, just further down the beach after Octopus Bar. There is a run down pool table on the deck of the restaurant. This restaurant is owned by local Cambodians and they served pretty good grilled chilli beef rice, seafood fried noodles and chicken noodle soup.
What to do?
Laze on the beach, read a book, go kayaking, swim with the plankton and chase waterfalls. This is not your typical party island. In fact, there were hardly any parties past midnight. Just quiet and peace most of the time. Due to the pricey accommodations, the party people would have chosen Koh Rong over Koh Rong Samloem anytime.
The weather was such a bummer. It was drizzling and there was a bunch of tourist making a pitstop at KRS. Good thing, there was this hidden waterfall further up Saracen Bay. Just walk past the pier and Paradise Resort to find this gem. You will be greeted by a guy asking for USD $3 as entrance fee. Fret not, it comes with a beer! It was always nice to spend some time soaking in nature.
Up next – Koh Rong! 3D2N in Koh Rong Samloem would be just ideal. Anything more than that, take your money and pleaseeeee spend it elsewhere. A one-way ticket from Koh Rong Samloem to Koh Rong costed USD $7.50. It was a 30 minutes boat ride and a 360 degrees change of vibe! Check it out on my next blog post!